Zen Discoveryedit

The zen discovery is the built in discovery module for elasticsearch and the default. It provides both multicast and unicast discovery as well being easily extended to support cloud environments.

The zen discovery is integrated with other modules, for example, all communication between nodes is done using the transport module.

It is separated into several sub modules, which are explained below:


This is the process where a node uses the discovery mechanisms to find other nodes. There is support for both multicast and unicast based discovery (can be used in conjunction as well).


Multicast ping discovery of other nodes is done by sending one or more multicast requests where existing nodes that exists will receive and respond to. It provides the following settings with the discovery.zen.ping.multicast prefix:

Setting Description


The group address to use. Defaults to


The port to use. Defaults to 54328.


The ttl of the multicast message. Defaults to 3.


The address to bind to, defaults to null which means it will bind to all available network interfaces.


Whether multicast ping discovery is enabled. Defaults to true.


The unicast discovery allows to perform the discovery when multicast is not enabled. It basically requires a list of hosts to use that will act as gossip routers. It provides the following settings with the discovery.zen.ping.unicast prefix:

Setting Description


Either an array setting or a comma delimited setting. Each value is either in the form of host:port, or in the form of host[port1-port2].

The unicast discovery uses the transport module to perform the discovery.

Master Electionedit

As part of the initial ping process a master of the cluster is either elected or joined to. This is done automatically. The discovery.zen.ping_timeout (which defaults to 3s) allows to configure the election to handle cases of slow or congested networks (higher values assure less chance of failure). Note, this setting was changed from 0.15.1 onwards, prior it was called discovery.zen.initial_ping_timeout.

Nodes can be excluded from becoming a master by setting node.master to false. Note, once a node is a client node (node.client set to true), it will not be allowed to become a master (node.master is automatically set to false).

The discovery.zen.minimum_master_nodes allows to control the minimum number of master eligible nodes a node should "see" in order to operate within the cluster. Its recommended to set it to a higher value than 1 when running more than 2 nodes in the cluster.

Fault Detectionedit

There are two fault detection processes running. The first is by the master, to ping all the other nodes in the cluster and verify that they are alive. And on the other end, each node pings to master to verify if its still alive or an election process needs to be initiated.

The following settings control the fault detection process using the discovery.zen.fd prefix:

Setting Description


How often a node gets pinged. Defaults to 1s.


How long to wait for a ping response, defaults to 30s.


How many ping failures / timeouts cause a node to be considered failed. Defaults to 3.

External Multicastedit

The multicast discovery also supports external multicast requests to discover nodes. The external client can send a request to the multicast IP/group and port, in the form of:

    "request" : {
        "cluster_name": "test_cluster"

And the response will be similar to node info response (with node level information only, including transport/http addresses, and node attributes):

    "response" : {
        "cluster_name" : "test_cluster",
        "transport_address" : "...",
        "http_address" : "...",
        "attributes" : {

Note, it can still be enabled, with disabled internal multicast discovery, but still have external discovery working by keeping discovery.zen.ping.multicast.enabled set to true (the default), but, setting discovery.zen.ping.multicast.ping.enabled to false.

Cluster state updatesedit

The master node is the only node in a cluster that can make changes to the cluster state. The master node processes one cluster state update at a time, applies the required changes and publishes the updated cluster state to all the other nodes in the cluster. Each node receives the publish message, updates its own cluster state and replies to the master node, which waits for all nodes to respond [0.90.6] Added in 0.90.6. , up to a timeout, before going ahead processing the next updates in the queue. The discovery.zen.publish_timeout is set by default to 30 seconds [0.90.8] Added in 0.90.8. previously set to 5 seconds .